When I am writing a piece of fiction, I may be asked by someone, “So what’s your story about?” I hate that question. I want to ask, “Do you want to know what it’s about. Or what it’s about?” I mean, is Moby-Dick about chasing a white whale, or is about the dangers of revenge?
First of all, our stories are about the action. Our hero want something he cannot have. Everything following either brings him closer to it or provides a fresh obstacle. And the story ends with ultimate victory or tragic failure, but it begin and ends in definite places and moves along a clear path. This is all based upon action.
Sometimes our stories are about a certain theme. It can be the redemptive power of love and forgiveness or it may be about man’s inhumanity to man. Usually there is an idea we are trying to get across. But as writers we must be warned not to be too preachy. If we have not first told an interesting story, the theme doesn’t matter.
Writers like to use symbols, and often our story is as much about that as anything else. For example, when Fitzgerald constantly uses in The Great Gatsby items to represent money and others to indicate corruption, a certain motif arises. One can say The Great Gatsby is about the corruption of money as anything else.
An interesting plot is worthless without interesting characters to engage in the action of the story. Sometimes when telling about our stories, our explanation may begin with, “It’s about a person …” and from there all of the plot action, themes and symbols go back and describe this person. If our stories are not about genuine people, then don’t bother.
Our stories are about many things because real life involve many things. Our stories are realistic, yet still involve a suspension of disbelief. Our characters are real but never ordinary. Our plot is well developed along a clear course, and yet it may surprise us in the end. These things are what our stores are about.
Leave a Comment below and tell me what your story is about.